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Humanities and Social Sciences Entrance Exam

HSEE is conducted by IIT Madras to select successful candidates for admission to the university’s proposed five year Master of Arts (MA) program. The first two years of the Master’s program offered at IIT Madras are the same. However, after that, the course is divided into two parts: an integrated master’s degree in development studies and an integrated master’s degree in English studies. The total number of places offered in the course IIT Madras MA is 46.

The Humanities and Social Sciences (HSEE) entrance examination lasts three hours. The test document includes multiple choice questions (MCQs) and descriptive questions. The test is extremely competitive and out of the total number of HSEE students, only 2% are pre-selected.

HSEE 2019 exam pattern is such that the exam is divided into two parts. Part I of the HSEE includes objective questions that candidates must try for duration of 2 1/2hours, while Part II is a descriptive test that lasts 30 minutes. The questionnaire is in English and candidates must complete the full HSEE entrance exam in 3 hours.

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    Exam Details

    Exam Sections
    HSEE Exam SectionTopics/Type of QuestionsTest Medium
    Part IEnglish and Comprehension SkillComputer based exam
    Analytical and Quantitative Ability
    General Studies covering the areas of Indian Economics (since Independence), Indian Society, Contemporary World Affairs (post-World War II)
    Environment and Ecology
    Part IIWrite an essay on general topic involving description, or/and reflection or/and discussion.Pen-Paper based exam
    HSEE marking scheme :
    • For each correct answer, applicants receive 1mark. There is no negative mark in IIT HSEE.
    • HSEE  syllabus for Part I and Part II of the exam is released by IIT Madras.
    • Syllabus for Part 1 of IIT HSEE consists of English (25% marks of Part I), Analytical and Quantitative Ability (25% marks of Part I), and General Studies (in four sub-parts; 50% marks of Part I).
    • Part II involves essay writing.
    This section tests the candidate’s ability to understand and use Standard English, and to appreciate literary language. Questions are related to the following areas:
    • Reading skills: Candidates will be required to read the given passage/s that aim to test their comprehension skills.
    • Grammar: This section tests the candidate’s knowledge of English grammar such as sentence structure and usage, the use of tenses, verb patterns, articles, and active and passive constructions etc.
    • Vocabulary: This section examines the candidate’s vocabulary skills. Candidate’s ability to understand meaning, structure and colocation of words is tested here.
    Indian Economy
    • This section is intended to test the understanding of some basic economic concepts and awareness of key issues pertaining to the Indian economy with a focus on the developments after independence. The concepts and issues covered are:
    • Understanding the Economy: Scarcity, opportunity cost, resource allocation, economic systems and their characteristics, features of market economies, forces of demand and supply, elasticity of demand and supply.
    • Main Features of Indian Economy: Natural resources; human resources -population size and composition, literacy and education, occupational distribution.
    • Major Economic problems: Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality -concepts, measurement, trends, sectoral distribution and policies, inflation – trends, causes and remedies.
    • Economic Growth and Development: Meaning and measurement of economic growth, stages of development, national income concepts and trends, trends in savings and investment; human development index, national policy on education, health and health care policies. Planning in India: Five-Year Plans – objectives, priorities and problems.
    • Sectoral Development: agriculture – Green Revolution and technological changes, current issues and policies; industry-evolution of industrial policies in India (from 1948), strategies for industrial development, public and private sectors, small and medium industries, infrastructure, transport and communication, service sector etc.
    • Foreign Trade and International Economy: balance of payments, foreign exchange reserves and trade policy, IMF, WTO, international aid.
    • Money, Banking and Public Finance: Concepts of money and measures of money supply.
    Indian Society and Culture
    • Structure of Indian Society: Caste, Class and Tribe, Institutions of Marriage, Family and Kinship, Political institutions, Demographic Indicators and Trends.
    • Social Change in India: Sanskritization, Modernisation, Westernization and Secularisation, Social Movements and Regionalism, Panchayati Raj Institutions & Governance, Affirmative Action Programme of the Government, Commissions and Policy Interventions.
    • History and the Making of Indian Society: Mughal era and Islamisation, British Raj, Sepoy Mutiny, Reform Movements in the 19th Century and the Emergence of India.
    • Indian Philosophy and Thinkers: Jainism and Mahavira, Budhha and his Teachings, the Charvakins, Orthodox Systems, Sikhism, Sufism, Gandhi and Non-violence.
    World Affairs
    • Emergence of the US and USSR; emergence of UN system; the Cold War and nuclear race; disintegration of Soviet Union, decline of Communism and rise of nationalism; Arab-Israel conflict; India and the World; NAM and role of India; India-China and India-Pakistan relations, China and the World, conflict and wars.
    • Democracy and Development; Challenges to democracy; North-South divide on issues of development; UN and its various developmental and peacekeeping operations; Nuclearisation and non-Proliferation; India in SAARC and ASEAN; International terrorism, fundamentalism and the War on Terror; Indo-US relations; New centres of power in Asia, Latin America and Africa.
    • Hunger and Poverty; Human Rights, Democracy and Development; Environmental degradation and green politics; Issues of Race, Ethnicity and Gender; Deprived Classes and minority politics; Religion in the contemporary world; Culture and Civilization; Globalization and changing economic, cultural and political landscape; Mass media and cultural change; Emergence of various popular mass movements.
    Environment and Ecology
    Global Environmental Picture:
    • Population Growth
    • Degradation of Soils
    • Global Atmospheric Changes
    • Loss of Biodiversity
    • Structure of Ecosystems
    • Biotic Structure
    • Categories of Organisms
    • Feeding and Non-feeding Relationships
    • Ecosystems and How they Work
    • Elements in Living and Non-living Systems
    • Energy Laws, Nutrient Cycling
    • Major forms of Pollution and their Impact
    • Primary and Secondary Pollutants
    • Control Strategies
    • Indoor Pollutants
    • Global Warming
    • International Treaties
    • Principles of Solar Energy
    • Hydropower
    • Wind Power
    • Biomass Energy
    • Ocean Thermal Energy
    • Geothermal Energy
    • Tidal power
    This section tests the candidate’s analytical skills and quantitative abilities. Questions are related to the following areas:
    • Numbers, Algebra, Highest Common Factor (HCF) and Lowest Common Multiple (LCM), Calendar, Basic Statistics – Average, Ratio and proportion, Profit and Loss, Percentages, Simple and Compound Interest, Work and time, Discount, Age sums, linear equations, elementary trigonometry.
    • Data interpretation, Analytical reasoning, Logical reasoning, Brainteasers, and Patterns.
    HSEE 2019 Syllabus for Part 2
    Topics for the essay writing in Part-2 will be based on current affairs and general knowledge.